In search of clarity: self-esteem and domains of confidence and confusion

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008 Nov;34(11):1541-55. doi: 10.1177/0146167208323102. Epub 2008 Aug 28.


To date, research suggests that self-concept clarity is a monolithic construct: Some people have clearly defined self-concepts in all domains, whereas others do not. The authors argued that self-concept clarity is instead multifaceted and varies across trait domains. The authors predicted that social commodities (SCs; e.g., looks, popularity, social skills) would show less self-concept clarity than would communal qualities (CQs; e.g., kindness, warmth, honesty), due to domain differences in observability, ambiguity, and controllability. Results replicated past findings that self-esteem predicts self-concept clarity but also demonstrated that participants' SC self-views were less clear than their CQ self-views. Moreover, people showed greater clarity about traits that were lower in observability and higher in ambiguity and controllability. These findings suggest that everyone, regardless of self-esteem, has self-concept domains of relative confidence and confusion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult